Just Squeezed Automated Juice Bars open the window on an alternative to typical vending machine fare.
While traveling on business in Dubai a couple of years ago, Dmitry Churilov came across an automated vending machine that intrigued him. The machine dispensed fresh orange juice which he found to be not only a nice twist on typical beverage offerings but also very convenient. Moreover, the preparation process was accomplished quickly and visibly through a wide glass window, further enhancing the novelty factor.
Back in the U.S., he was surprised to discover no one had thought to import the machines to America. Shortly thereafter he obtained distribution rights from the Italian manufacturer and launched Just Squeezed, a Seattle-based company, which seeks to place this unique self-serve option in suitable locations. “My background in computer hardware has nothing to do with the vending business,” Churilov says. “But this concept fascinated me and I think there’s a great future for it here in the U.S.”
Fresh and fun
It’s no secret consumers increasingly prefer healthy alternatives to the sugary soda and snack offerings vending machines typically dispense. A customer can stroll up to a Just Squeezed Automated Juice Bar and within 20 seconds walk away with a 10 oz. cup of fresh-squeezed chilled orange juice. The preparation is fascinating and Just Squeezed makes it plain for the world to see. Most will be captivated watching the machine’s precision engineering prepare their refreshing drink.
Courtesy of a front viewing window, customers watch as fresh oranges roll down a chute. The fruit is deftly pierced, then halved and its juice quickly squeezed into a waiting cup. Two or three times a week the apparatus is filled with fresh oranges that are sourced from local distributors and the entire machine is refrigerated at a constant 39.2˚ Fahrenheit. It features an advanced cleaning and sanitizing system that automatically refreshes itself every few hours to maintain the highest hygiene standards and ensure bacteria-free operation. Capable of storing up to 120 pounds of oranges, a Just Squeezed Automated Juice Bar can produce over 100 servings before it needs to be replenished with fresh fruit.
Location, location, location
There are 15 of these vending machines currently operating in the Seattle area with the majority situated in shopping malls or retail/supermarket settings. As the concept gains traction, Churilov predicts it will appeal to schools, universities, fitness centers, stadiums, airports or almost any high traffic venue where patrons seek a quick pick-me-up that also packs a nutritional punch. It’s likely to prove popular in business settings as well. Increasingly employers like to offer an amenity such as this as a free workplace perk. Churilov sees potential there
There are two models—one slightly wider than the other—and both bear a sleek, contemporary design and occupy minimal space. All that’s required for operation is access to a standard electrical outlet. The machine accepts cash but is also equipped with a convenient cashless pay system. The typical retail price for a cup of juice is between $2.50 and $3.
Plug it in and sit back
The company seeks what they refer to as location partners. “Potential partners don’t have to buy the machine so they’re not setting out a huge amount of capital,” says Arne Hendrickson, a sales and marketing consultant who assists Churilov with business development. “All they do is provide space in high traffic locations and then they’re paid a commission in return for that key space. They’re paid a commission from each cup of juice that’s dispensed,” Hendrickson adds.
It’s essentially a turnkey business model. Location partners pay no rent on a Just Squeezed Automated Juice Bar. They simply plug it in, pay the electricity and later collect their commission, which is negotiable. The company does all the rest including stocking, service and maintenance. Location partners sign a contract for a specified period of time, usually two to three years.
Somewhere down the line, the company envisions expanding its juice selection to include grapefruit and other fruit blends. In the meantime they’ll focus on delivering juice that is neither from concentrate nor pasteurized, a process that strips the product of nutrients. “The oranges that slide down our chutes, the oranges that are sliced and squeezed right in front of you—it’s fresh juice with all the nutrients,” Hendrickson says. What you see is indeed what you get. It’s expected many will want to do just that.